2014 Next Step Maine Scholarship Fund
The second annual Next Step Maine Scholarship fund received over 76 nominations and awarded 21 scholarships to employees pursing their degree, ranging in size from $500 to $1,500. We raised a total of $22,000 for the fund, including critical support from the Maine Community Foundation.
Barbara Chute, Age 55
Peri-Anesthesia Clinical Resource Nurse, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Lewiston, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Maine
At the age of 55, Barbara, with the encouragement of her director, returned to college to get her BS in Nursing. Completing her degree has been a personal goal for her for many years, but she put it on the backburner in order to work to support her two children through their own college aspirations. Now that they have completed their degrees, she has begun the path of completing her own. She is the primary provider in her household working 40+ hours per week, taking call at night and weekends, and completing online classes in her spare time. Barbara has been in the healthcare profession for many years. Her Manager says “Her professional growth in obtaining this degree will not only benefit her but also St. Mary’s.”
Annie Collins, Age 33
Peer Administrator, University of Maine Augusta, Bangor Campus
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at UMA
In addition to her full-time position as a peer administrator, Annie is a full-time student, single mom of two growing children, and typically works a part-time job for an agency in the social services field. “Annie is nothing short of an amazing role model for her children, her fellow students, her team, co-works, and community.” says Sally Daniels, Learning Support Specialist and Tutor Program Coordinator. “Annie’s impact in far reaching now; with her degree and plan to continue onto graduate school, Annie will be the face of Maine in motion.” She faced many challenges growing up, but through trial and error, deep learning moments about who she was and what she needed in order to be successful in school, she was able to not only get her GED and go back to school, but to thrive in the college environment, overcoming many fears, rebuilding her confidence and truly engaging as a learner. “I gained more confidence and had a new spark in my heart for my ability to complete my bachelor’s degree in the field I belonged in.”
Tanya Kristin Collins, Age 37
Operations Director, Island Institute, Rockland, ME
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Southern New Hampshire University
Tanya has been working for the Island Institute for over seven years in various roles and is currently serving as Operations Director. She is also enrolled full time at Southern New Hampshire University’s Bachelor’s Degree in Business Studies. In addition to her work obligations and education she is a single mom to three boys. Tanya’s employers say she is a life-long learner in the classroom but also through self-directed study. Her flexibility and willingness to take on new roles and responsibilities has allowed her to advance at the Island Institute and she has great potential for advanced leadership with her degree. Tanya is a repeat winner of the Next Step Maine Scholarship.
Emilie Douglass, Age 37
Development Support Engineer, GWI, Biddeford, ME
Pursuing an associate’s degree at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Since joining GWI in 2003, Emilie has taken every opportunity to learn and study all available material as well as to immerse herself in difficult and complicated subjects in order to achieve mastery of them. “It has been this strong work ethic, dedication to improving herself, and the ability to take on tasks beyond her training that make her an invaluable employee within our organization” says GWI. Through proactively seeking out training in multiple areas of the company, Emilie was able to advance from an entry level position to managing several different departments. Still eager to learn more, she began exploring formal education. In 2011, she began taking courses online at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. “Taking courses online allowed me the time and flexibility I needed in order to maintain my job and busy family life.” After she completes her associate’s degree she intends to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Donna Farnham, Age 52
Vice President of Lending, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, Waterville, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at Thomas College
Donna’s career spans almost thirty years in increasingly demanding positions. She is skilled at directing work flow, training subordinates, and earning employees’ respect. She works diligently each day sharing her knowledge with her team in order to better serve the credit union members. In addition to her full-time work schedule and part-time student status, Donna has served on several local boards such as Kennebec Regional Development Authority, Kennebec Health Systems Federal Credit Union and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. After her work day is done, after classes are over, and after board meetings adjourn, she can be found caring for her aging parents. Donna had a dream and continues to forge ahead with each challenging moment. She describes her first big educational achievement in 2008 when she graduated with an Associate’s Degree, “Neither of my parents went to college, so it was a very proud moment when they saw me do so, Magna Cum Laude.” She is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree. “The knowledge and skills I gain from college give me the ability to be a better employee, leader, manager and coach to my employees. Through learning and improving myself, I am able to use that knowledge to develop my staff and promote their career opportunities.”
Desiree Gatlin, Age 28
Administrative Assistant, Valley Distributors, Oakland, ME
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Thomas College
Desiree has been an employee of Valley Distributions for over six years. Balancing a full time job and recently getting an associate’s degree is testament to her perseverance and motivation. She is currently seeking her bachelor’s degree. Desiree attributes her drive to continue her education to the professionals that surround her at work. “Valley Distributors has shaped me into the full rounded professional I am today. I believe with my experience and education together, I can be a very productive and positive employee.” As a single mom, actively engaged in her community, she works hard to contribute to her environment through participation in programming, being a loyal committed employee and finishing her degree.
Director of Education Programs, Family Violence Project
Pursuing Bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine Augusta
Jonathan has been employed with the Family Violence Project for over three years; currently his official capacity is as the Director of Education Programs. Unable to finish a degree in the past, Jon is dedicated to advancing his education through a part-time Bachelor’s Degree program at the University of Maine at Augusta. His employers know Jon is a “shining star” and a role model in the community. He is an ethical and compassionate leader in the advocacy against domestic violence. Besides his work and education Jon is busy raising his daughter as a single parent. He is a second-time winner of the Next Step Maine Scholarship.
Melissa Kapocius, Age 43
Administrative Assistant, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine Augusta
Described as a faithful worker, deeply committed to achieving her college degree, and a model of outstanding office behavior, she cares for two teenage children and has never once been late for work. In addition to her job, academic studies, and family obligations, she has spent the past seventeen years volunteering for the Brunswick School Department and various youth organizations. “Due to lack of support, I was unable to focus on my education in my early years. Instead, I became a model employee by working hard, raising a family, and serving my community.” Motivated to continue to be a positive role model for her children and her community, she is now adding formal education into the mix and pursuing a degree. “Once I experienced my first class, I realized that going to college was part of a lifelong dream coming true for me.”
Ashley Knowles, Age 25
Certified Dental Assistant, Penobscot Community Health Care, Bangor, ME
Pursuing an associate’s degree at the University of Maine Augusta
Ashley has been employed by Penobscot Community Health Care for over three years and is described by her Director as integral to organizing their clinic. Ashley’s decision to continue her educational goals and become a Dental Hygienist allows PCHC to retain her in a greater capacity supporting both her aspirations and their needs. Ashley is committed to improving access to dental care in rural Maine. Being a part of PCHC, a health care facility with a mission to “serve, regardless of ability to pay” is described by Ashley as “exactly the kind of organization I wanted to be a part of.” While working at PCHC, she says “I’ve learned so much. I learned that Maine desperately needs more dental professionals and that I can help meet that need by continuing my education.”
Jennifer Laliberte, Age 44
OJT Administrative Coordinator, Women Unlimited, Augusta, ME
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine at Augusta
As an employee of Women Unlimited since 2006, she has always sought ways to improve her performance and herself. Her supervisor describes her as a true life-long learner and an inspiring multitasker always able to keep everything running smoothly with the care of her two children, her work, and other commitments. After high school she wanted to go straight to college to study accounting, but was unable to do so due to family financial constraints. One thing led to another, time past, and her children grew. Now at 44 she is once again grabbing hold of her goal to be an accountant.
Betty MacDonald, Age 60
Manager of Clinical Operations, Community Health and Counseling Services, Bangor, ME
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree from Western Governor’s University
A committed employee of Community Health Counseling Services for seven years, Betty serves as a mentor for her staff. “Her clinical skills are excellent and her judgment is sound. She is a dynamic member of our management team.” She will soon complete her Bachelor’s degree and is committed to continuing on to pursue her MSN. She has a desire to arm herself with the skills and knowledge needed to meet the needs of patients in the face of many changes that lay ahead in health care.
Monica McCusker, Age 56
Office Coordinator, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Maine
After joining the Bates workforce, Monica was inspired to continue her education and began pursuing a degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies at USM. Monica has excelled in the classroom and has taken on leadership roles at work – putting to good use every day what she has learned in her studies. Her current studies have provided an extra opportunity for her to gain confidence with leadership skills and improve her overall job performance. Her decision to go back to school in 2009 has presented her with many challenges and a lot of strain on her family financially. Just a few more classes to go and she will have achieved her goal. “As a concerned and caring citizen, I plan to make the momentary expense of my educational pursuits worthwhile and become more involved with community projects and working with others to develop a youth program that will make a difference in my town.”
Nicholas Mitchell, Age 19
Barista, Coffee by Design, Portland, ME
Pursing an associate’s degree at Southern Maine Community College
Nick wants to be a teacher and is passionate about inspiring others to find their voice. Nick is described as a “shining example of dependability and steadfast contribution.” He has been an employee of Coffee By Design for two years at their location in the L.L. Bean Flagship store. Nick’s presence and overall contribution to this particular CBD location is described as “an unparalleled match.” Nick is able to mesh and exercise his abilities to teach, coach and role model for his younger co-workers. CBD believes “this specific work setting is invaluable for Nick, not only to excel as a barista, but offers him hands on experience in coaching, mentoring, and teaching valuable on-the-job skills to his co-workers.” In addition to taking classes, working at CBD, and caring for his three-year old daughter, Nick also actively engages with his academic community. He is on the student senate, vice president of a student group, and active participant in a number of college clubs. He describes his educational experiences and hands-on work experience as adding tools to his toolbox that he will eventually use as a teacher to inspire kids and help them unlock the skills and confidence they need to use their creativity.
Gary Pagel, Age 55
Ed Tech, Central Maine Health Care, Lewiston, ME
Pursuing an associate’s degree at CMMC College of Nursing & Health Professionals
Gary is in his final semesters of his associate’s degree at the CMMC College of Nursing and Health Professionals. He is a second career student who has entered nursing because of his passion for the profession and his deep rooted desire to help others. Gary, at the age of 50, was a displaced worker looking for a new career path. Re-entering the job market meant returning to school. “I went to school and received my EMT-B license and began working in the healthcare field. I fell in love with patient care so much that I decided to become a nurse.” His employer describes him as a dedicated employee eager and hungry to learn his new craft of nursing.
Lauren Perkins, Age 25
HR Business Partner, Hollywood Casino Bangor, Bangor, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine Augusta
Lauren has been working and going to school consecutively for seven years and is now in senior standing at UMA. She describes her life as a balancing act, “keeping all the plates spinning at the same time can be hard.” A former star performer of the year, Lauren continues to combine the winning combination of drive and application of the skill-sets she has learned in her formal academics. Since 2007 she worked in an operational role as a cocktail server, she then transitioned to an administrative role in human resources, and was recently promoted to HR Business Partner. She explains that she found herself, her educational path, her work-life, and her growing family commitments, through dedication and resiliency. “My past is filled with small setbacks, ones that I think back on and remind me of how strong I can be.”
Mia Ricardo, Age 21
Residential Care Associate, Day One, South Portland, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Maine
Mia first began working with Day One as an intern through her internship program at Southern Maine Community College. She stayed on with Day One and, after graduating with her associate’s degree, began working full-time for them. One Day describes her as “positive, caring and energetic. She is open-minded and craves learning.” Mia dropped out of high school at fourteen, but returned to school at eighteen to earn her GED. She enrolled in community college and completed her associate’s degree and has kept going ever since. She says “upon entering school, I realized it’s where I belong. I am destined to have a good education.” As a current Bachelor’s degree student at USM, she has her eye on PhD programs.
Patricia Riddle, Age 40
Foster Care Contract Support Assistant, Spurwink, Portland, ME
Pursing a bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix
Described by her supervisors as a kind, caring individual who shows unsurpassed commitment to their organization, the families they work with, as well as to her own growing family, Patty seeks new opportunities for learning and for improving how she helps the children they serve. “I want to be able to understand them and help them with their needs in the best possible way. Through my position at Spurwink I have been able to see that I can make a difference in the lives of others. This would not be possible without the schooling and supervision I receive.”
Lisa Seeley, Age 47
Assistant Branch Manager, Bangor Savings Bank, Machias, ME
Pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine Machias
Lisa shows great promise as an employee and as a student. On her own initiative she has chosen to go back to school to complete her degree attending full-time while working full-time and taking care of her family. Not only has Lisa advanced and become a leader at work, but also she is a leader at school. Her GPA is among the highest of all business students currently enrolled at UMM. She represents the bank and her community exceptionally well. Lisa writes “my goal for my professional life is to complete my Bachelors and then get an MBA. I would like to be a mentor for young women who are struggling with juggling it all – family, work, life.”
Deidre Thompson, Age 28
Director of Student Activities and Admissions Representative, York County Community College, Wells
Pursing a bachelor’s degree at University of Southern Maine
Deidre was always encouraged by her family to pursue her goal of becoming a helping hand to people. She found an outlet for her commitment to supporting others through her work at YCCC. As a younger employee of the college, students relate well to her allowing her to make significant improvements to college life. Working within higher education has solidified her desire to continue her education, finish her degree, and move forward to eventually complete her PhD. A first generation college student, she is now only seven courses shy of her bachelor’s degree and one step closer to her Master’s.
Amanda Webb, Age 27
Lab Assistant and Medical Tech, Mercy Hospital, Portland, ME
Pursing an associate’s degree at CMMC College of Nursing and Health Professions
Amanda is a part-time lab assistant and student, a per diem technician, and a full-time mother pursing her goal of becoming a nurse. “Her versatility in many patient care areas will make her a wonderful patient care provider. Her calm manner, compassion for patients, and desire to provide excellence in care makes her a true asset to our organization.” She achieved her CNA while in high school and worked hard at applying to and navigating the higher education opportunities around her. Though her initial tries were not successful she found alternative career paths that kept her within the field and supporting her family. After the birth of her second daughter, her motivation to complete her degree doubled. “I realized my daughters were going to need me to be a role model. I need this for myself, but more than anything my daughters need a great role model to look up to. I have struggled in the last two years but have managed to keep my head up high. I want to continue to do great things and make my daughters proud of me, and I know when I become a nurse, they will be just as proud of me as I am of myself.”
Jonathan Wing, Age 23
Certified Nurse Assistant, Charles A Dean Memorial Hospital, Greenville, ME
Pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine at Fort Kent
Jonathan began his career while in high school at Charles A Dean Memorial Hospital as a one-on-one sitter for Alzheimer and Brain Injury patients. He graduated high school early at the age of 16, successfully completing his Certified Nurse Assistant Course while finishing his last year of high school. He has been a faithful employee for over six years. Jonathan began his formal professional nursing education three years ago attending a combination of in-person, on-line, and interactive classes full-time through Kennebec Valley Community College. In the Summer of 2012, he applied and was accepted as a transfer student to the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. His employer has watched him grow throughout this process and is committed to supporting him as he pursues his passion for becoming an RN.